GUIDING YOUR MARRIAGE WITH THE TEN COMMANDMENTS – Part 7: On Adultery and Stealing

Adultery and stealing are closely related when it comes to marriage. Both are a form of robbery and sin that will threaten the destruction of your marriage relationship.

Do you think of the Ten Commandments as part of the Old Testament law that doesn’t really apply anymore? Can they truly have a significant impact on our lives…on our marriages? The truth is they can–and must. This Couple’s Bible Study covers what the Ten Commandments mean to us today and how they can guide our lives and marriages to bring great blessing. 

We continue our study of the Ten Commandments and how they apply to our marriages. And this week we will address the seventh and eighth commandments, which in marriage are closely related to one another.

The seventh commandment is found in Exodus 20:14: “You shall not commit adultery.”

The commandment is the one that most clearly applies to marriage. But as we’ve seen throughout this series, God has much to teach us beyond the obvious. So once again we will look throughout His Word to discover what more He has to say to us.

The word translated “adultery” in Exodus 20:14 is the Hebrew word “na’ap.” It means to have sexual relations in violation of the marriage vow.

This command was in direct response to the infidelity and promiscuity sanctioned and practiced by the cultures and religions that surrounded God’s people. Obeying this law helped set God’s people apart. It made adultery a heinous crime equal to robbery and even murder.

Adultery is a violation not only against our marriage partner but also against God Himself.

The word translated “adultery” in the New Testament is the Greek word “moicheuo.” It means to be involved in a sexual act with a person other than one’s spouse.

Jesus teaches us that adultery goes beyond just a physical act. He said in Matthew 5:27-28: “‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’”

We have observed previously in this series that our actions begin with our thoughts. This is also true when it comes to adultery.

This is why Jesus goes on to teach in Matthew 5:29-30: “‘If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.’”

Jesus is not telling us to literally gouge out our eyes or cut off our hands. He is making the point that we must be careful what we put into our minds and hearts. We should seek to fill them with things that are good and righteous and follow God’s Word.

We should follow this command in Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

We live in a corrupt world and cannot keep from seeing and hearing every evil thing. However we can stay away from purposely allowing those things to impact us.

We can join David in praying the commitment of Psalm 103:3: “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile.” And we can also pray for God’s help using the words from Psalm 119:37: Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”

This is especially important since our marriages are designed to show how God relates to His people (see Ephesians 5:22-33).

This is why we will also study the eighth commandment this week: “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15).

The Hebrew word translated “steal” is “ganab.” The Greek word for “steal” in the New Testament is “klepto.” Both mean to take another person’s property without permission or legal right, and without intending to return it.

While our spouses are not our property, this commandment not to steal can definitely be applied to our marriages. There is not a direct teaching on this passage from Jesus that helps us understand it more deeply. However, we do find much more in God’s Word to help us apply it to marriage.

One of the ways this commandment–not to steal–is broken in marriage is when the sin of adultery is committed. The one who commits this act of unfaithfulness steals from their spouse. At a minimum, they rob their spouse of trust, love, and joy.

Adultery often leads to divorce and is the only reason given in Scripture that divorce should occur.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:31-32: “‘It has been said, “Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.” 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.’”

Jesus also taught about divorce when questioned about it by the Pharisees. We read in Matthew 19:8-9: Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.’”

Even though Jesus taught that there could be divorce if adultery has taken place, He was not saying it is a requirement. Repentance and reconciliation is always God’s preferred solution.

Jesus began His response to the Pharisees with these words in Matthew 19:4-6: “‘Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’”

If there has been adultery and divorce in your life, remember that God is loving and always ready to forgive and redeem us. No matter what sin we have committed, He is ready to forgive us.

This is what He tells us in 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

David (who committed the sin of adultery himself) wrote about God’s love and forgiveness in Psalm 103:8-12: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Adultery and divorce rob our spouses and ourselves of the peace and protection that come from doing things God’s way. And it also causes us to steal from God the joy He receives when we live by His truth and have the lives and marriages He wants for us.

Jesus told us in Luke 12:32: “‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.’”

The word translated “pleased” in this verse is the Greek word “eudokeo.” It means to bring pleasure, delight, and rejoicing or joyfulness. It is the same word God used about Jesus after His baptism in Matthew 3:17: And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’” (bold mine).

It gives joy to God to give us His kingdom. He wants to adopt us into His family and lavish us with all the blessings that come with being part of His household. This includes having a joyful marriage, just like any loving parent desires for His children. (If you want to know more about how to become part of God’s family, please read Meet Jesus.)

To receive all the blessings God desires to give us, we must be obedient to His Word. And if we want to bring God joy through our marriage and live with joy ourselves, we must follow His teaching on marriage.

In my years as a pastor and counselor, I have seen the pain that marriage problems and divorce bring to people. I cannot even imagine the pain it would bring to watch one of my own children go through this. And I am certain the pain God feels is beyond our comprehension as He watches His children deal with these struggles.

When we do not follow God’s plan for our marriage, it robs us of the ability to show the world God’s love to others. It brings harm to the Lord and to His message that He wants to bring through His Church.

Let’s be careful not to rob each other and God. Living according to His word and following His commandments will allow God’s blessings to flow through us, and allow our marriages to impact the world around us.

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QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

♦   Read this week’s teaching together. What did God teach you through it? How can you apply it to your marriage?

♦   Discuss what might be robbing you of the marriage God desires for you. Discuss what you can do to overcome those things. Commit to do what you must to please God, bring Him joy, and have the marriage He wants for you.

♦   Discuss how you can keep ungodly things from your minds and hearts. Talk about things like television shows and movies you watch, what you read, what you listen to, and other things that might negatively influence you. Begin praying the Psalms that we discussed in this week’s teaching that deal with this.

♦   Discuss how your marriage is both helping and harming Christ’s Church. Talk about what you can do to better serve God by serving His Church.

♦   We discussed one way we rob God and each other. Can you think of other ways we do this. How can we deal with these? What Scriptures inform your answer?

♦   Close your time by praying together. Ask God to help you in whatever you identified as areas you need to grow so that you and your marriage can better serve Him. Ask Him to help you keep your marriage strong so that it will serve as an example of His love for the world.

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Next week we will continue our study by discussing the ninth commandment.

Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
David

Other posts from the GUIDING YOUR MARRIAGE WITH THE TEN COMMANDMENTS series:
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Making God First
Part 3: Worship and Honor
Part 4: A Sabbath Day
Part 5: Honoring Your Parents
Part 6: Don’t Kill Each Other
Part 8: Being Honest
Part 9: Being Content
Part 10: Love and Devotion
All Scripture is from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Header photo by Sabra Penley.
Sofa photo by Prixel Creative for Lightstock.com. Used by permission.
Church photo by Aaron Burden via Unsplash.com (CC0), cropped/text added.

 

About David Penley

A devoted husband and father, former pastor and seminary professor, who longs to grow closer to the likeness of Christ each day and share God's love and truth with everyone.